ASSESSMENT OF NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF COVID-19 VACCINE

ABSTRACT: The research investigated newspaper coverage of the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Lagos State. It is not an overstatement that during the outbreak of Coronavirus lots of people were restless and panicking about the virus as a result people were focusing on how to prevent the virus since there was no vaccine for the virus until recent when there are emerging vaccines. The study was anchored on Health Belief Model and Development Media Theory. A survey research method was adopted in which a questionnaire was administered to 384 respondents using Krejcie & Morgan formula to derive the sample size. The data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics with emphasis on frequency and percentage method using SPSS version 21. The study finds out that newspaper was and is still effective during the outbreak of COVID-19 as well as when COVID-19 vaccines were developed, though, majority of respondents disagreed that newspapers give adequate coverage to the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Lagos state. However, most of the information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccine were got from Punch newspaper, Sun Newspaper and Nigerian Tribune newspaper respectively. Similarly, the majority of respondents said is not true that their Coronavirus knowledge has increased as a result of exposure to newspaper messages. The study recommended that government and policy formulators will make laws that will improve infrastructure and regulations of the health sector particularly in addressing COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine and other related issues. Journalists to be more proactive in their reporting and strategizing especially on how to create the desired campaigns and various awareness programmes because awareness carried out by the mass media has the potentials to provoke public discussion on the issues of concern; it will indeed enhance public knowledge and practices that will result into a change of attitude and behaviour.


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

            The emergence of Coronavirus as a global pandemic is of paramount concern to the world and researchers in particular as a result, libraries on a daily basis witness an influx of researches (Annune, Agoh & Annune, 2020). The coronavirus disease otherwise known as (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered Coronavirus. It was first reported by WHO on the 31st of December 2019 and the virus emerged from Wuhan, China. The cause of the disease was soon confirmed as a novel Coronavirus, and the infection has since spread to many countries worldwide and has become a pandemic disease (Araz & Hersh, 2020). Several websites and mass media have disseminated information about COVID-19 and have given different instructions to their audience about ways to prevent the spread of the virus, such as keeping a distance between themselves and others, using masks, and washing their hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

            However, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC, 2020) affirmed that Coronavirus is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in human beings. They advanced that, SARS-Cov-2 is the virus that causes Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This disease was initially named the 2019-novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on 12 January 2020 but was later officially named by World Health Organization (WHO) as Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although, Annune, Agoh & Annune (2020) cited in Guo, et al., (2020) stated that the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee proposed to name the new Coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2, both were issued on 11 February 2020.

            Medical experts noted that the virus transmits to another person when an individual comes in contact with an infected person, there are high chances of an individual becoming a victim and the end result in most cases is death as no vaccine has been discovered yet until recent when there are lots of emerging vaccines. As a result, governments adopted sensitization and awareness creation as tools to curb the spread of this notorious COVID-19 (Araz & Hersh, 2020).

            Annune Agoh & Annune (2020) cited in WHO (2020), noted that Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a flu-like illness caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome. It is an unknown acute respiratory disease that spreads mainly through the respiratory tract killing thousands of people across the nations, countries and continents. 

            NCDC (2020) affirmed that the Federal Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of COVID19 on 27th February 2020 in Lagos adding that the victim was an Italian citizen but work in Nigeria who returned from Milan, Italy. His case was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. It should be noted that Coronavirus case across the globe is high as 127,519,788 out of which 2,792,568 deaths is recoded while 102,778,857 recovered. According to NCDC (2021) coronavirus case across Nigeria is 176011 while 165,218 have been discharged whereas 2167 have dead from COVID19 complication out of a total of 2,542,261 sampled as at Thursday 5th August 2021. Lagos, FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Rivers, Oyo, Edo, Ogun, Kano, Ondo and Kwara states were the states most affected (NCDC, 2021). It should be noted that as of the 4th of August 2021, 747 new confirmed cases and 4 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

            Also, the first lockdown was on Monday, 30th March 2020 mainly for Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (Abuja and Ogun State). It should be added that the lockdown was announced as part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus because NCDC confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the country to rise to 111 in the country (Olarewaju, 2020). Later across the country which led to the emergency closure of all schools, businesses (markets), religious places, social gatherings, work from home, virtual meetings, airports etc.

            However, mass media ( radio, television, newspaper, billboard) etc and new media  (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) were employed to create awareness in order for the public to be fully aware especially the preventive measure as there was no vaccine for the virus at that time so the best is to avoid having it. Social media was an efficient source especially for keeping social distancing as a means to avert the spread of the virus.

            The situation of the Coronavirus outbreak also affected the decision‐making of government and organisations (Al Eid & Arnout, 2020). However, to reduce the physical interaction and get awareness, or update regarding the current situation, social media platforms were a significant tool for communication and the continuation of people’s routines.

           Social distancing, travel restrictions, quarantine, and closing the businesses outlets have changed the fabric of society. With people have been forced out of the safety and well‐being of their routine, their online interaction took the center stage more than ever, and to global social networking and discussions (Chan, Nickson, Rudolph, Lee, & Joynt, 2020; Thelwall & Thelwall, 2020).

            It should be noted that the 747 new cases were reported from 14 states- Lagos (488), Akwa Ibom (121), Oyo (29), Rivers (25), Ogun (15), FCT (13), Kaduna (13), Kwara (11), Ekiti (10), Osun (10), Edo (6), Abia (3), Anambra (2), and Plateau (1).

            However, the only suggested way out by experts is vaccination. As there are many Coronavirus vaccines now after lots of clinical trials, there is a need to vaccinate the entire population to be able to conquer the virus, unfortunately, this effort has met lots of setbacks especially in Nigeria due to lots of myths, speculations and fabrications. The vaccination will help curb the spread of the virus while it will also enhance immunity.

            Some of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently approved for use are some of the following as highlighted by (NHS, 2021; Wikipedia, 2021): Moderna vaccine, Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Janssen vaccine. It is on this thrust that the study investigates the level of newspaper coverage of the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Rivers state with a view to replicate its findings in Nigeria and Rivers State in particular.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

            During the outbreak of Coronavirus, how to prevent it was the major information and knowledge that everyone is seeking because is a new disease with lots death recorded in foreign countries where they are not only advanced technologically but also advanced in manpower. This has necessitated the need to seek knowledge of Coronavirus. Not only do people rely on mass media but also depend on online media to seek information and opinions quickly on the virus (Kwanya, 2014; Bui & Moran, 2020).

            However, Asogwa (2021) pointed out that most of the stories made use of official sources as well as straight news. Comparing the coverage of mass media, Asogwa (2021) noted that newspapers covered more vaccine development than TV. There is little or no study currently on newspaper coverage of the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria and particularly on Rivers state despite being a global pandemic that has not only crippled the socio-economics, political but also the education sector of which the only global suggested way out lies in the vaccination.

            Also, most of the studies on Coronavirus vaccines were conducted in developed countries where the cases in terms of mortality and the number of victims making its findings cannot be replicated in Nigeria (Robert and Arnold, 2021; Piltch-Loeb, Savoia, Goldberg, Hughes, Verhey, Kayyem, 2021).

            Moreover, due to some information regarding some side effects from the vaccines, this increases the level of myths, speculations and fibrillations regarding vaccination. Equally, there is hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine especially among people in Nigeria and particularly in Rivers state; this phenomenon remains high among the Nigerian population.

            It is on this thrust that the study investigates the level of newspaper coverage of the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Rivers state with a view to replicate its findings in Nigeria and Rivers State in particular.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

i.          To examine the extent to which newspapers have given adequate coverage to the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Rivers state.

ii.         To determine which newspaper often give adequate coverage to the Coronavirus   vaccine

1.5       Research Questions

i.          To what extent has the newspaper give adequate coverage to the administration of the      COVID-19 vaccine in Rivers state?

ii.         Which newspaper is considering a newspaper that gives adequate coverage to the Coronavirus vaccine?

1.6       Significance of the Study

            This study is intended at finding out the level of knowledge that people have about COVID-19. This study is also essential to serving stakeholders in the health sector with the needed insight and encouragement to do more in the area of COVID-19.

            This study will equip both the patients and the public at large on COVID-19 ranging from the COVID-19 statistics, causes, warning symptoms, preventive tips, control measures, myths and others while it will equally educate them on the benefit associated with vaccination so that lots of people will offer themselves for vaccination. 

            Government and policy formulators will equally benefit from the research to make laws that will improve infrastructure and regulations of the health sector particularly in addressing COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine and other related issues while it will make private investors establish in the health sector. Also, the government will see the need to equip the hospitals with tools and personnel to be able to cater for COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

           This study will help journalists to be more proactive in their reporting and strategizing especially on how to create the desire campaigns and various awareness programmes because awareness carried out by the mass media has the potentials to provoke public discussion on the issues of concern; it will indeed enhance public knowledge and practices that will result into the change of attitude and behaviour.  Therefore, apart from contributing to health-related research literature, the study among other things will show the extent to which mass media create awareness.

            World Health Organisation and other health agencies are going to benefit from this study by gaining insight on the need to create more awareness, education and knowledge on COVID-19 like other diseases and illnesses in order to make individuals have depth knowledge on the warning symptoms, causes and how to prevent COVID-19 while the findings will go a long way in attracting the attention of government, non-governmental organizations and other foreign organisations who are concerned about how to reduce COVID-19 across the world.

            Similarly, the findings of this study will serve as additional literature on the topic for students and researchers who will like to carry out similar research while, the material will form bulk literature that exists in the field of mass communication, journalism and media studies, etc

1.7       Scope of the Study

            The study which investigates an assessment of newspaper coverage of the administration of COVID-19 vaccine has been narrowed in scope to Rivers state. Thus, the geographical scope of this study shall be within Rivers state. The choice of the resident of Rivers state was due to the proximity to the researcher, inadequate time to study residents of Rivers state among other logistics.

            Also, the demographic factors of the respondents will carefully study before the administration of research instruments such factors include: age, gender, academic level e.t.c.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

            Though the various concepts in this study are clear, yet, some concepts need to explain for clarity purposes.

Assessment: This simply means a critical look or examination of how newspapers report Coronavirus vaccine in Rivers State.

Newspaper Coverage: How newspapers report the activities relating to the administration of Coronavirus vaccine among people.

Administration: In this study, administration refers to as method of giving coronavirus vaccine to people to prevent having the virus.

COVID-19 Vaccine: This simply means injection to prevent coronavirus among people.

Rivers State: This is one of the states in south south of Nigeria and has headquarters in Portharcout with highest human population of 5 million above according to population census of 2006.

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